Definition of the Problem of the Modern University
The university is an environment of social conditioning. In the way that a machine might polish ordinary rocks so that they glimmer, the university believes it can shape its students into valuable members of society. It acts as a factory that takes in ignorant citizens and returns those ready to participate in their community. On its assembly line are the professors and deans of the different departments, each taking their turn in placing the exact same parts into every single unit. The owner of a factory would increase profit by substituting safe chemicals for toxic ones, turning out a product that was poisonous to those who purchased it. And similarly, for their own personal gain, those who control the universities will substitute enlightenment for narrow-mindedness, bigotry, and apathy.
Everywhere, the products of these "higher education" schools are working for the forces of domination and control -- they are now the professional employees of abusive corporations, cruel governments, and exploitive employers. They are not quite workers in the typical sense that they labor directly upon the productive forces of society. Rather, their skills are enhanced so that they provide a greater service to the Capitalist system. These students are not educated to be thoughtful, intelligent, or compassionate; they are educated to be subservient to a masterly class that lives very well off of the labor of the great majority. It is not education, so much as it is conditioning -- not an uplifting of the mind's energetic powers, but an encroachment upon them.
Accountants and Business Analysts
Some of the manufactured brands of this industry include accountants and finance specialists, as well as "business professionals" These are not people whose work contributes to the public good. Their labor does not emphasize the good parts of human society, nor does it contribute to the common ends of community. What is it that a financial specialist does? They measure and analyze market trends, in the price of commodities, land, capital, labor, and everything that can be sold. The result of their efforts is a pricing scheme that takes as much as possible from the consumer.
Financial analysts drain the millions of working class families that do actual good work, whether it is producing needed goods, performing essential services, or providing sustenance for the people. The accountant does not act in a way that maximizes the happiness of society; they work to maximize their boss's ability to fleece the public. Wages are dropped to the lowest possible level, only because accountants have meticulously studied the market trends. What is good for a very few, and bad for the many, is the directive of the accountant's labor.
"Criminal Justice" and "Law." This is the title typically given to the field of training provided to lawyers, judges, and police officers. In what way are the police educated? They are provided with martial arts training that allows them to physically detain anyone who is considered as "opposed to the interests of the state." Classes are provided for crowd control, for investigation, for collecting evidence, for interrogation techniques, and for prison management. That is, the police officer is molded into the violent, repressive force of the state: it disrupts public protests when they are too powerful, it orders workers back to work when they are striking, and it imprisons all who become too powerful in resisting its abuses. The criminal justice student is being trained in the art of oppression, as the lawyer is being trained in the art of justifying the oppression.
If the police officer is a force that oppresses the common people, then what is it that the lawyer and judge do? What services are provided by these products of the college and university system? The take constitutions and laws, and provide them with interpretation and intention. The poor man who kills a person for their wallet will surely the hang. But when a mine owner violates safety regulation which kill a hundred miners, there is not even an investigation. [*1] Those hungry and starving are thrown into jails by the thousands for shoplifting and stealing; but monopoly is not prosecuted by the state, and its result, unemployment, is rampant.
Like the theologians for the Catholic Church, the lawyers and judges interpret the laws, constitutions, and rights; but they do it for the benefit of the few, so that they can dominate over the many. They explain and describe the law in a way so it is a weapon of the rich for impaling the working-class. As the weapon of a fanatical rich, it rarely turns in on itself with suicidal tendencies. Naturally, we find that lawyers typically prosecute the poor and defend the rich, just as the nobility and aristocracy of the Middle Ages made oppressed victims out of peasants and hired workers.
Media and News
"Communications," "Marketing," and "Media." These are some of the humble names given to those trained for advertising, the art of subduing public opinion and encouraging a private interest against the common interest. Their task commonly involves promoting products made in sweatshops or those made in forced labor camps in foreign dictatorships, such as Burma and China. The marketing professionals use their talents to make more convincing propaganda: they produce the bait that leads people into becoming consumers. They train the public masses to be focused on buying the products of corporations and capitalists; which naturally returns to the need of working for corporations and capitalists. The marketing executive plays an essential role in the domination of the public.
One could not examine advertising and marketing without examining its most popular function: providing news. The main media outlets in the United States are all owned by a very few powerful interests. They do not serve the purpose of the democratic spirit by keeping the public informed; they serve the purpose of their employer. Everywhere within this field, news reporters and reporters investigate what is profitable for their employer, not what is informative for the public. The money provided by advertising and investors gives private media a pro-business and anti-community outlook. As it is dangerous, it is also expansive, with all of the mainstream media owned by just a few companies.
General Electric owns nine NBC channels, as well as the A&E networks, which includes the History Channel and the Weather Channel. Walt Disney owns a handful of ABC and ABC-syndicated channels; News Corp. owns several Fox channels and dominant control of media in parts of South America and Australia; Time Warner owns the CNN channels, as well as a variety of others: TNT, HBO, and TBS, with affiliates in Europe and Asia; and Viacom owns the MTV channels, Nickelodeon, and the Black Entertainment Television (BET) channels. [*2] These are the interests served by reporters and investigators: the few who dominate the majority.
Mechanical Inventors and Researchers
Engineers, physicists, and scientists provide the core of research ability in making useful inventions and discoveries. The fields in which they work are virtually unlimited. It is likely, though, that many of them will become employed in the field of production: developing faster, more efficient machinery and processes. It wouldn't just be an assembly line that operates quicker, but their results would include more effective processes for making vaccines, fertilizers, chemicals, food, drugs, and everything else necessary to civilized existence. Improving the yield of crops after harvesting and improving the yield of iron after refining, engineers and scientists will be employed in almost every field of industry.
If they succeed in their task, productivity goes up. Laborers produce more per-hour and capitalists can get more with less investment. The result has been universal: since every worker produces more now, the capitalist no longer needs to hire as many workers, so many of them are fired, thrown into the growing armies of unemployed. Improved machinery does not mean that the public can consume more. A higher rate of production means the need for less production, so workers will lose their job, since there is not a new base of consumers to buy the excess of their product. Successful scientists and engineers, then, are responsible for contributing to the lack of employment among the common people. Just to achieve that higher wage, that respectability, those job perks and benefits, the "enlightened scientist" steps over their fellows.
The great number of scientists and physicists are only paid by increasing the power of the few and the misery of the many. If there is a field in which they are more useful, it is weapons production. Mustard gas, death chambers, artillery, incendiary explosives, bombers, tanks and the atomic bomb: these are the trophies on the mantle of "the scientist" and "the engineer." Even Thomas Edison, the great inventor of the Twentieth Century, bragged "I am proud of the fact that I have never invented weapons to kill." [*3] The scientist should have spent great effort constructing his lies, as he was the greatest advocate and promoter of his invention, the electric chair. [*4]
The physicist devises methods for bombs to scatter more effectively when dropped on civilian populations, just as the engineer shapes the bomb in a way to be as deadly as possible when it explodes. These are not people who are working towards the socializing and humanizing of the world. Rather, they are more like the profiteers of Capitalism; dreading the poverty and unemployment common to all, they turn themselves into effective tools of domination. They submit to the forces of authority and power, so that they can lift themselves just a little above society -- even if it means depressing the masses to do it.
Physician, Heal Thyself
Physicians, doctors, and nurses: these are generally regarded as the employees of the "care industries." Even here, though, we find malice and bad intent. Even where the oath "do no harm" is required of everyone entering this profession, it is as meaningless as the oaths of kings and aristocrats who promised to serve in the interests of their people.
Drug companies, in order to get doctors to sell their medicine, often bribe them with vacations, gifts, and "free samples." [*5] In one article published by the Wall Street Journal, it was reported that doctors who attend Vioxx "pharmaceutical company seminars" prescribe $600 to $700 worth more of the brand name medications -- this is compared to other doctors who did not attend or receive gifts who treated the same population of patients. [*6] The pharmaceutical industry hires as many as 82,000 "detail men" in the United States, whose task it is to befriend and provide gifts to physicians. One small-town doctor received $10,000 in endorsements. Dr. Arnold Relman, a Harvard Medical School professor, told a reporter, "Anybody who's been in that position knows that yes, those gifts, $60, $100, $40, again and again, do influence your attitude about that company and will influence the prescriptions that you write." [*7]
Even the laboratory researchers are biased and drawn towards promoting private interest over public interest. In a study involving 1,105 university authors and 789 articles published in 14 scientific and medical journals, 34% of the lead authors in studies had a financial interest in the product they were reviewing -- most often without disclosing their conflict-of-interest with the reader. [*8] In one study by Mildred Cho at Standford University, 98% of the research studies funded by the drug industries reported that new therapies were better than old ones. [*9]
It is quite clear that such pharmaceutical companies do not research for the benefit of the public -- they do not hire scientists to cure diseases, but to cure their lust for profit; they do not hire researchers to improve the situation of the world, but just to improve the situation of an elite few. According to one study of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry in 2008, "Budget for marketing is by far greater than for research." [*10] In a 1998 collection of ten studies, there were 3,045 adverse reactions observed by physicians, but only 275 of these were reported to the appropriate, public agency: the Committee on Safety of Medicines. [*11]
It wouldn't be profitable for these employees of the care industry to alienate their sponsors by reporting that the pharmaceutical industry's drugs as potentially dangerous -- even when they have direct proof of it, doctors keep silent about the dangers of the high-profit drugs. Even that group of middle class workers who are seen as healers of the people has been bought -- even those who intimately know the weaknesses and frailty of human nature are ready to exploit it.
"But at least they provide some healthcare, at least they do some good," say the apologists of modern medicine, as though they had to defend the doctrine of hell within the framework of a religion of compassion. But then they form a monopoly on the industry: on the permits for possession and experimentation with controlled substance, on the university boards, on the legislative lobbying groups. No one can perform without a license, and no one can have a license without going through a university, and no one can work without giving in to the demands of their employer -- and so, instead of providing healthcare, physicians guarantee that healthcare is untouchable and out of the hands of the common people. The ability of the public to truly tend to the personal needs of all is pacified and hijacked by this broken system that serves the a few, wealthy investors.
Doctors, far from their actual position of being a healer, are rather just another glorified assistant to the capitalist class. And just as the lawyer must appear to be equal and unbiased, just as the scientist must appear to want to improve society, just as the business investor must speak of jobs and charity, just as the media and advertising executives speak of themselves as the epitome of "free speech," -- just as every liar and cheat must compromise themselves to an elite authority, so, too, must the doctor pervert their own profession at the sacrifice of the health of the public.
Advisors to the King
Beyond these trade-specific trainings, there are many education programs that span a wide variety of occupations. The mathematician, for instance, may be a co-worker of the engineer developing explosives, artillery, and missile technology. Calculus would be applied in maximizing the amount of explosive material to the surface area of the bomb, as well as maximizing the blast area with using as little possible explosive as necessary. Trigonometry would be used everywhere, such as in determining the direction of forces of the gears, belts, and pulleys making up the release function of a bomber. The engineer and the scientist would be familiar with these already, but the mathematician has an exceptional understanding of these concepts.
All other industries would similarly find benefit in the use of a professional in analytical mathematics. The same calculus that maximizes the blast area of an explosive is used to maximize the productivity. The engineer and physicist finds more efficient ways for machine operation on the physical and practical level. The mathematician applies an intensive scrutiny on very specific activities: producing as many manufactured goods using as least raw material as possible, or designing a formula that properly expresses the heat in a machine so that the system can slow down to cool off when needed. In all of these aspects, the mathematician's effect is the same as the engineer: with higher productivity, common workers are less necessary. Unemployment is directly proportional to how effective mathematicians and engineers are in their duty to their employer.
Chemists, too, are found throughout every industry and every occupation. Like the mathematician, the chemist often exchanges notes with the engineer in producing weapons for governments. While the mathematician increases the blast radiation, the chemist develops more potent explosives. New methods of filtering out impurities allow the engineers to pack more destruction within each bomb. In World War 1, they played an essential role in developing and producing toxic gases, including mustard gas, tear gas, phosgene, and chlorine.
In the US government-funded "Project SHAD," chemists developed chemical weapons to be tested on unknowing civilians and military personnel. [*12] Chemists during the Vietnam War produced huge quantities of Agent Orange for the US military, which was used to destroy wildlife growth to make the jungle more navigable. Its contamination by dioxin, however, meant that it was also lethal to human beings, killing 400,000 people and causing birth defects in at least 500,000 children. [*13]
Chemists working for the Monsanto Corporation had unintentionally developed the TCDD chemical that killed hundreds of thousands. It is a testament to the worthlessness of those four, six, and eight-year degrees of those obeying the orders of capitalists: somehow, accidentally, this chemical that was intended for general use was contaminated with a lethal, mutagenic substance. [*14] Today, that very same corporation is employing chemists in chemically and genetically altering food, providing more than 90% of the world's genetically-altered seeds. [*15]
Likewise, just as the physician, the chemist is an assistant to the pharmaceutical companies. They work in laboratories, examining samples, running tests, compiling results, and writing reports. In their success, their company gets a new patent, and in producing more, they get patents for their company faster. Now that the drug is known, it is privately owned and controlled. Before, the cure was undiscovered; but today, the cure is undiscoverable, except at the merciless exploitation of the drug companies.
This could not have happened without so many chemists willing to sacrifice their skills towards the private benefit of just a few. Without the biologists and organic researchers, there could not have been one pharmaceutical drug; just as there would no food without those who farm, or no goods without those who work. Now that some of these drugs have been discovered and owned, those who are sick may have to pay 500,000% of the cost to make the drugs. [*16]
Other members of the "enlightened science" community can be found throughout all of these industries. Biologists work in the laboratories with the chemists in conducting tests and analyzing results; they also work with engineers when developing a process for manufacturing vaccines, as well as in their work of biological and chemical weapons. Architects design the dangerous mines that claim the lives of miners, just as the design the factories loaded with dangerous and unsafe equipment. Office managers and administration act as a support apparatus to other structures, whether media, physicians, engineers, scientists, or economists. Every field of knowledge can be subverted towards the end of authority and domination; at the very least, because the attainment of that "knowledge" required several years of discipline.
Every Rule Has Its Exceptions
There are always exceptions. There are always going to be professionals who are bright and insightful enough to see the injustice that is the foundation of their industry. There is always the scientist who is bold enough to refuse the wishes of the masterly class, as there is always the physician who will heal all who comes to them. We know this of the scientists like Darwin and Galileo. And we know this physicians, too.
Michael Servetus, who devoted his life to medicine, anatomy, and humanism, was burned alive by the church in 1553. The physician Isaac Puente, who organized Anarcho-Syndicalist unions in Spain, was executed by the Fascist government in 1936. These are some individuals who are eons and lightyears beyond the standards of today's physicians. They were doctors who were killed for helping others, while today, healthcare is dominated by doctors who kill to help themselves.
More than that, it is certain that the majority of middle class workers are ignorant of the behavior of their employers. They are not quite aware of how capitalism tends towards the misery of all. It is interesting that they do not have faith in their employer to provide employment, healthcare, and a fair standard of living; they had to earn this right by accepting the indoctrination of a university and then submitting to the labor of their profession. They possibly cannot expect good intent on the part of their employer, when it was only by providing skilled labor that required years of schooling.
Yet, at the same time, they have confidence in the activity of their employer. Biochemist researchers expect that the vaccine they develop will be made free or extremely cheap to all people. Engineers and scientists expect that their research will push the boundaries of human knowledge and elevate all of civilization. Physicians want to heal, as media specialists want to communicate, as lawyers want to deliver justice.
Every one sacrificed years of their life in studying their particular trade -- and each knew that they would live a comfortable life without submitting. They knew they had to sacrifice to get their bread from their employer; but on the opposite side, in expecting that their work will be used for good, they're expecting their employer to just give bread away to others. Far from a sacrifice for the common good, they work to sacrifice the common good.
A Free World through a Democratic Economy
This is the state's system of popular education. It is as distant and untouched by the common people as the state itself. And like the government, the university system serves only those who are wealthy or powerful.
In this work, I hope I have not expressed my ideas with a tone of condemnation, but with a tone of tragedy. The participants of the middle class life are not entirely aware of modern, social ecology. Intentions are misguided more than they are innately selfish, often contaminated by prejudices and bigotries of school upbringing. Nor is there anything specifically wrong with any skilled field of industry, whether engineering or biochemistry or media -- today, they simply exist as tools of domination.
The engineer who builds bombs could just as easily be the engineer who builds homes and bridges, just as the biochemist can give up development on Agent Orange and work on rehabilitating polluted areas. This would not turn them into tools for change, but into aware, conscious, and self-thinking members of the whole of civilized humanity. The productivity that throws workers out of their job today could be used tomorrow to give each worker a two-hour day.
It is possible that people can organize for the justice, equity, and opportunity of all. This will require an inclusive organization, taking in everyone, and resists all exclusive organizations, including the church, the state, and the capitalist system. It will require that we organize the economy for the benefit of all, so that everyone can be rewarded for the skills and efforts that they provide, and so that their labors tend towards the benefit of the whole of society.
*1. "Harlan County, USA," (film), directed by Barbara Kopple, 1976.